Pained Bottas says Mercedes team orders made sense

Paola Ditto
Aprile 21, 2017

The Ferrari driver took his second win of the season after jumping Lewis Hamilton for second at the first corner, and getting ahead of Valtteri Bottas for the lead by being the first frontrunning auto to make a pitstop.

Hamilton, who has been upbeat about the battle of champions and the fight his Mercedes team have on their hands, appeared more subdued as mechanics cleared the Bahrain Grand Prix paddock.

He lost the lead to Sebastian Vettel through the first pitstop phase and Bottas later slipped behind his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who was on an alternative strategy.

Three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton apologises to his Mercedes team after incurring a five-second penalty which denied him the chance of victory in Bahrain.

"Obviously I had very good pace, particularly the second and last stint, and I honestly believed I would be able to catch Sebastian up, but obviously with a five-second penalty that made it twice as hard as it, was already going to be".

A slow stop for Bottas delayed Hamilton slightly anyway and he dropped behind the Red Bull, and was then hit with a five-second penalty for delaying Ricciardo.

Despite seeing Vettel make the best start to a season by a Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher in 2004, Raikkonen said it offers him not extra motivation.

"I think there would have been a possibility", he said.

He added: "We will regather as a team and come back fighting. Losing points for the team is definitely painful".

"The vehicle was a dream today ... the last half of the in-lap with the fireworks & the track lit up, I just thought I love what I do", the German added.

The renewed optimism is in contrast to previous year, when Ferrari did not even win a race and where Vettel drew more attention for his frustrated outbursts during actual races rather than his driving.

The safety vehicle appeared on track after 18-year-old Canadian newcomer Lance Stroll, suffering his third retirement in three races, turned into Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz as the Spaniard left the pits.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was fourth.

Ricciardo's Red Bull team-mate 19-year-old Max Verstappen crashed out of the action after a brakes failure.

Both Mercedes drivers used the safety auto incident to pit for new tires, but Hamilton held up Ricciardo.

This put Bottas in second place, but he then backed off to let the quicker Hamilton through to chase Vettel down.

Hamilton has won 54 races while Bottas, who was previously at Williams, has yet to triumph.

With Hamilton gaining fast, Vettel came in for his second tire change on lap 34 and came out fourth behind Raikkonen.

Meanwhile, Alonso retired one lap from the end.

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